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Jakarta Post

House postpones COVID-19 rapid testing for lawmakers

  • Ghina Ghaliya
    Ghina Ghaliya

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, March 26, 2020   /   02:20 pm
House postpones COVID-19 rapid testing for lawmakers Members of the Indonesian House of Representatives (DPR) attend a plenary session in Senayan, Central Jakarta, on Feb. 22. (JP/Dhoni Setiawan)

The House of Representatives has postponed COVID-19 testing for lawmakers and their families, which was scheduled for Thursday, following an outpouring of public outrage over the plan.

United Development Party (PPP) lawmaker Arsul Sani said the tests had yet to be discussed by the House secretary-general and party factions. 

However, he denied that testing was being postponed due to the public outcry.

"What’s clear is it won't be done today [Thursday]. It will be discussed later,” the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) deputy speaker told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

Arsul added that the House had yet to decide whether the tests would be conducted before the end of the House recess period on March 30.

He said that while it was understandable that the public had criticized the plan, the rapid test kits that were going to be used were funded by donations from House leaders and members.

"The House bought 40,000 rapid test kits. Most of them will be given to several regional administrations and hospitals," Arsul said.

House secretary-general Indra Iskandar previously told the press that as many as 2,000 people would be tested on Thursday or Friday at the House's housing complexes in Kalibata and Ulujami. 

Three parties outside the government coalition, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), the National Mandate Party (PAN) and the Democratic Party, have expressed their opposition to the plan.

The parties argued that free tests should instead be given to those who cannot afford them and medical workers on the frontlines of the pandemic.

The plan has also been widely criticized by the public as people across the country struggle to get tested. Thousands of people have signed online petitions on Change.org, calling for the plan to be canceled.

As of Wednesday, Indonesia has reported 790 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 58 deaths.